With nothing less than the lead in the league table at stake, Ajax and AZ faced iff in Alkmaar. AZ won the match thanks to a penalty in the first half and a goal quickly into the second half: 2-0.
Where Ajax defeated PSV by 4-1 a week ago, now Ajax could do little to stop AZ.
,,We put up a good fight in the first half", Van Basten said. ,,We began with Suarez and Sulejmani up front and then you expect to have an advantage. In that first half we had some fairly good moments." Those moments came mostly after moves on the left flank by Urby Emanuelson or Miralem Sulejmani. Luis Suarez came close to scoring on two occasions, but most of the dangerous situations were on the other side, in front of Kenneth Vermeer's goal. Vermeer saved a few times, but Eyong Enoh brought down Maarten Martens in the box in the 22nd minute and Demy de Zeeuw scored from the penalty spot. ,,That was the only difference in the first half", Van Basten said. AZ boss Louis van Gaal on the other hand had counted more opportunities for his team than for Ajax and concluded that the home side had been the more dangerous team.
In the second half AZ were undeniably the better team. Ajax struggled in the snow and were dealt a mental blow when Ari scored with a back-heel kick in the 51st minute. ,,That is when the match broke", Van Basten said. ,,We had no more power. We tried by moving Jan Vertonghen to midfield, but it did not help us. We could not play our game anymore. Even when we brought on Evander Sno for Rasmus Lindgren as an extra striker."
The best chances were for AZ. After 92 minutes, when the pitch was white with snow, referee Roelof Luinge blew the final whistle. AZ had won by 2-0 and had taken over the lead in the league from Ajax. ,,It was a deserved loss", Van Basten said. ,,And that is a sad conclusion for us."